table of contents
- What is a digital picking system?
- Advantages and effects of introducing
- Points to note when installing
- Example of using digital picking system
- Line work history management
- Preventing human error
- Shortened educational period
What is a digital picking system?
Digital Picking System (DPS) is a work support system for inventory removal, etc. that is mainly used in warehouses of distribution centers and manufacturing plants. A dedicated display device is installed on the product shelf in advance, and the system links the display device to the shelf, and the shelf to the product. When a worker picks an item, an indicator installed on the shelf containing the item lights up, so the worker only has to pick the item from the shelf with the light on.
In addition, by combining it with a Digital Assort System (DAS), it is possible to sort products picked in bulk by shipping destination in a seed-like manner, and to detect incorrectly picked products. It is characterized by much more efficient and accurate work than manual picking using a list.
Advantages and effects of introducing
Implementing a digital picking system has many benefits not only for work leaders but also for workers. The benefits and effects of implementing a digital picking system are as follows.
Prevention of human error
First, digital picking systems mechanize most of the work and send instructions wirelessly, helping to prevent human errors.
For example, if you are storing products to be shipped in a mail-order business in a warehouse, traditionally you would print out the ordered products as a picking list on paper and manually search for them. In this work process, products and lists are not linked, so questions such as “Was the list output correctly in the first place?” “Did you take out the products from the designated shelf?” “Did you take out the products of the correct specifications?” There are many points where human error can occur.
On the other hand, with digital picking systems, the number of points where human error can occur can be reduced to an absolute minimum because the system only mechanically indicates the shelf where the product is located. For example, even if there are products in a series with very similar packages, you can pick them without hesitation. Furthermore, even if the shelf position of a product changes, what is checked is whether the shelf indicator is lit, not the appearance of the product, so there is no need to memorize the product’s characteristics. Even if you change the position of the shelves when new products arrive, you can continue working as usual without having to wait for workers to get used to it.
Cost reduction by going paperless
A digital picking system manages all picking-related data digitally. If we had previously printed each order on paper, we would have generated a huge amount of paper. Digitization eliminates the need for paper, printing, and paper disposal costs. It also prevents you from making mistakes such as accidentally losing the paper while working. If you want to save the finished picking list for a certain period of time, there is no need to prepare a physical location.
Since digital picking registers and manages the shelves of all products, it is possible to significantly reduce the work loss and increase efficiency that occurs with traditional work methods. First, it can always instruct workers on the shortest picking route, reducing the time it takes to search for the appropriate product. The number to take out from the shelf and the opening to put in are automatically displayed, so there is no need to compare it with the list each time. Another advantage is that the display lamp, rather than the text, lights up, which greatly reduces the need for cross-checking and prevents errors caused by misreading. As a result of the overall work time being shortened, there are cases where work efficiency has doubled compared to the list method.
Specifications that are easy to handle even for newcomers
Since product knowledge is not required for picking work, there is little to remember, and even new employees can easily engage in the work. With the spread of digital picking, it will be advantageous for workers to be able to work in the same way if they have previous work experience in a different location, such as part-time work in a warehouse. Compared to the list-style method, it is thought that it will be easier to attract people for job openings. Or, even if there is a change in the person in charge at a distribution warehouse that receives cargo from multiple shippers, it can be handled immediately if the system is the same. If you happen to have a small number of workers or a large quantity of goods, you can call in support from other departments and get to work right away.
Points to note when installing
Digital picking systems have the potential to make work more efficient, but implementation may or may not be appropriate depending on the site situation. To maximize the effectiveness of the implementation, consider the following points before making a decision.
There will be a cost
One of the disadvantages is cost. In addition to building the internal system, installing display devices on each shelf requires initial investment depending on the scale. It is suitable for implementation in large-scale workplaces such as distribution warehouses and various manufacturers, while it may be difficult to achieve a cost-effective effect even if it is introduced in privately run stores with a small number of products or shipping destinations. Additionally, there are running costs, so it is necessary to judge whether the cost is worth it in order to improve work efficiency.
Difficult to change storage location
Since product locations are managed digitally, it becomes difficult to easily change or add product locations. In addition to simply placing products in predetermined locations as in the past, it is now necessary to thoroughly manage product inventory. If there is a large turnover of products, or if there are large differences in size between products and it is difficult to manage them uniformly, you may need to devise measures such as picking some products by hand.
Recovery response is required when a problem occurs
Digital picking systems may become unavailable due to system problems, power outages, or other reasons. There is also the risk that the entire operation will stop until the situation is restored, leaving the picking workers idle for a long time. Knowledgeable people must be in charge of recovery efforts, and an emergency manual that cannot be used is also required.
Example of using digital picking system
Finally, we will introduce some examples of actual implementation and utilization of digital picking systems.
Line work history management
Picking operations are not only instructed but also managed digitally, making it easier to track work history. At a manufacturing factory, human error was an issue that resulted in the use of tools that were unsuitable for the product during the work process. Therefore, we built a system using a digital picking system that shows the correct tool on the display when a part is detected, which reduces human errors and records that work is being done in the correct order. This is an example of how work processes and areas where mistakes occur can be converted into data and reviewed later, contributing to improvements in the work environment and quality assurance operations.
Preventing human error
One warehouse used list-based picking, but because there were many similar parts, there were many mix-ups of products. Therefore, we introduced a digital picking system, which eliminated the need for visual inspection and weight judgment, and eliminated the need to mix up parts as small as 0.1 mm. This is an example of how work efficiency was greatly improved by taking advantage of the feature of being able to pick up parts without hesitation even if they were placed in completely different locations.
Shortened educational period
At one assembly factory, there were many processes, and when new employees joined, they had to learn them from scratch. As a result, training took up a lot of time, and the problem was that the work was delayed by the amount of time that the person in charge of training spent on training new employees. However, by introducing a digital picking system, the training period was shortened from one week to just two days, which also led to a reduction in education costs such as personnel expenses.
The digital picking system is a system that greatly contributes to preventing on-site errors and improving work efficiency, but there are some points to be aware of when implementing it. However, digital picking systems can be used in a variety of ways depending on the site, so if you are having many issues with picking tasks, why not consider it?